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Dumb Dodo Bird

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Many creatures have become extinct throughout Earth's history (It is estimated that 99% of all life that has ever existed on Earth is currently extinct). But while different kinds of Stock Dinosaurs are usually selected for prehistoric settings, there are a variety of other species of extinct animals that come to mind when thinking of the past. One of these creatures is the dodo bird, which is kind of the poster-child when someone thinks of an extinct species.

The dodo was a flightless bird that lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar that wasn't discovered until 1507. It is placed in the same family of birds as pigeons and doves (Columbidae). If you look at a baby pigeon and depictions of the dodo side by side, you might discover some similarities. Due to their isolation, they were naive towards predators and were wiped out within a few decades of their discovery, so quick in fact they were believed to have been mythical for a time. However, their images were recorded in various books about animals and various tissue and bone fragments have been discovered on Mauritius in modern times. With their rather goofy-looking appearance, they eventually became a popular animal choice in media of various sorts.


Usually a dodo in media is a comedic, dim bulb whose inability to fly often leads to jokes at their expense. Due to being extinct, they also sometimes appear alongside animals that died out a much longer time ago in pre-historic environments. They can sometimes act as Cloudcuckoolanders or The Fool. In short, Dodos are never taken seriously. But there are some cases where the trend is averted, or at least subverted, if the dodo isn't entirely stupid or out of their mind that is usually the case.

A case of Historical Downgrade. Technically a Subtrope to Dumb Dinos as dodos, being birds, are dinosaurs. See Dogs Are Dumb and Moose Are Idiots for other animals portrayed with similarly low intelligence. Compare The Dinosaurs Had It Coming for another self-inflicted extinction.



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    Comic Books 
  • Dodo Man, a one-shot Batman villain from the bronze age, had a fixation on natural history as his idiosyncrazy.
  • Dodo from Animal Crackers, although he is not as dumb as he is temperamental and too stubborn to realize he's flightless.
  • The Dodo and the Frog was a 1940s and 1950s DC Comics series that featured a dull-witted dodo bird and a frog who continually tried and failed to take advantage of him. The duo originally ran as a feature in DC's Golden Age Funny Animal humor title Funny Stuff, eventually taking over the title. Dunbar Dodo and Fenimore Frog eventually returned in the 1980s Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!. Dunbar's employed as a cruise ship captain, while Fenimore (still nursing a grudge) occasionally becomes the monstrous giant Frogzilla.

    Comic Strips 
  • Inverted in one installment of The Far Side which claims that dodos had human-level intelligence.
  • Safe Havens:
    • Samantha successfully cloned two dodos, Paul and Mary, who turned out to be paragons of stupid, self-destructive behavior. Fortunately, their descendants seem to be more levelheaded, considering the grandchildren see Paul and Mary as 'failed prototypes' and successfully negotiated to keep them out of the dodo sanctuary, to the point of filing restraining orders. After Mars is terraformed, Paul and Mary decide to make their home there, raising two more chicks (With a third on the way). Mars, for its part, regards them as pets.
    • When life starts evolving on Mars, there was enough merfolk DNA left there to allow merfolk to appear again...except they start appearing as half-fish, half-dodo. (Samantha theorizes that merfolk's top halves evolve to reflect the dominant species of the time, hence these creatures, the half-human creature of Earth, and the plesiosaurs of the time of the dinosaurs.)

    Films — Animation 
  • Ice Age has a group of dodos that are preparing for the Ice Age. However, at the point they're introduced they've only gathered three melons, one of which the main trio needs to feed the human baby. They end up wiping out their entire flock right then and there just trying to defend the melons, starting with the flock's last female killing herself and the rest falling to their deaths.
  • Disney's Alice in Wonderland has The Dodo, who is a Composite Character of the original Dodo, and another character named Pat. Despite his British gentleman demeanor, he's not too bright, as his first suggestion as to how to get the "monster" (a giant-sized Alice) out of the White Rabbit's house is to attempt to set the place on fire and "smoke the monster out".

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is widely cited as having launched dodos back into modern popular culture. Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, had a stammer, and often inadvertently referred to himself as "Do-Do-Dodgson". As such, and as a fan of the London Natural History Museum, which includes a dodo skeleton in its collection, he began referring to himself as "Dodo" and thus inserted a dodo into his book as an Author Avatar. While not as dumb as subsequent appearances, Carroll's Dodo does encourage Alice and other birds (all of whom are expies of friends of Alice's inspiration, Alice Liddell) to run a "caucus race" in which anyone can run in any direction and everybody wins. This was a deliberate Take That! to the political caucus system, which Carroll saw as unclear and indecisive.
  • Invoked in Dodos are Forever by Dick King-Smith, which is about a family of dodos who are smart enough to see the writing on the wall and attempt to escape their impending extinction.
  • In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Reg takes Dirk and Richard back in time to see a dodo while explaining to them about the dangers of meddling in history; apparently the dodos only became extinct as a result of a time traveler meddling to save something else.
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dodos turn out to be magical creatures called Diricawls that possess teleportation magic. Muggles believe the "Dodos" are extinct because the Diricawls started using their powers to hide from humans once they figured out they were being hunted.
  • The "Grantville Gazette" short story collections of the 1632 novels include a very long-running story (One chapter per collection for long enough that the compiled chapters would make a novel in their own right) titled "Second Chance Bird" in which a bird-watcher from uptime realizes that dodos had yet to go extinct in the 1630s and stages an expedition to Mauritus to start a USE colony there in order to protect them.
  • In Paul Adshead's children's puzzle book Puzzle Island, the reader has a diary and a map of a mysterious island where an adventurer named Ambrose Fogarty claims to have found a male and female of 'the rarest creature in the whole world', which were believed to be extinct. Having taken the male to a location where he plans to create a breeding colony, he charges the reader with solving his puzzles to prove that they really love animals in order to find the identity and location of the female and the location of the colony. It turns out that the Dodo bird was the creature the reader had been tasked to help save, and it was hiding in plain sight all along on the front cover, and you can see it by flipping the cover upside-down.
  • Thursday Next has a pet dodo. Being famously extinct (and completely harmless) made it a popular pet once Time Travel and cloning made obtaining one possible.
  • The children's puzzle book Puzzle Journey Through Time ends with a dodo chick hatching from an egg that was left in the protagonists' magic box during their time-traveling adventures. The two kids hope that the story's Time Police don't come back to retrieve the chick.
  • Summer of the Dodo is about a girl in the late 20th century who cares for a dodo that hatches from a supposedly petrified egg, that learns to talk from watching television.
  • A dodo appears in The Peacock Party, a sequel to The Butterfly Ball, in the poem "The Dodo's Dream", which portrays it as not necessarily stupid, but definitely weird. The illustration shows the dodo bursting through an elephant-shaped teapot (legs through the bottom, head through the spout/trunk) while surrounded by surreal dream imagery.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe New Series Adventures novel The Last Dodo is about an alien who collects specimens of nearly-extinct species, including the eponymous bird.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Goodies: In "Dodonuts", Bill buys the world's last dodo from a pet shop and then attempts to teach it to defend itself against Tim and Graeme. However, he quickly learns that the bird has no survival instincts whatsoever.
  • In Primeval, dodos are one of the few creatures to come out of the time anomalies that are entirely harmless in themselves. Unfortunately, they also carry parasites that are viciously infective and deadly to humans.
  • Averted in Kamen Rider Zero-One with the Dodo Magia, who is a hyper-advanced AI reprogrammed to be an ultra-efficient assassin that grows more powerful (and deadly) as it learns!

  • The Neil Innes song "Say You're Sorry Again" proposes a lover's quarrel and refusal to make up as the real reason for the dodo's extinction.
  • The Dave Matthews Band song "Dodo" features a verse about the last of these birds.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In one Dragonlance supplement, a gnomish explorer attempts to locate the last surviving specimens of an Expy of the dodo bird in the lands of a primitive society. He shows them a picture. They assume he's asking them to hunt it ...

    Video Games 
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has a Dodo guard, that attacks by swinging its' beak, throwing rocks, and rolling eggs. Each time it lands a hit that's not a counter-attack, it does a Happy Dance.
  • Pocket God has dodo birds as one of the animals featured, and are one of the few animals incapable of eating the Pygmies.
  • Breath of Fire III has a Dodo bird as part of its Boss Bonanza.
  • Dodo Bird appears in both Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin as a rare enemy what appears in one room and tries to run away from the player. In former, it dies from practically one hit, though the latter one has more health and is an undead enemy.
  • You can find a dodo egg in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 which you can hatch to get a dodo what will fly to the nearest secret.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: One of the zombies in the Frostbite Caves (which takes place during the Ice Age) is the Dodo Rider Zombie, an imp riding a dodo that's normally grounded but "flies" when it encounters ice floes. It's actually not as dumb as it seems, considering that the Imp managed to train it as a mount and teach it to fly. Hilariously, its Almanac Entry has the imp proclaim that dodos are going to be the future of transportation, while everyone else tells him that there's no future in them.
  • In the Distant Marsh stage from Soulcalibur IV, you can spot dodos roaming around.
  • A bar owner in Aviary Attorney is a dodo, but she's no more or less intelligent than any of the other civilians. When the protagonists are looking for information from her patrons, she's usually able to direct them.
  • ARK: Survival Evolved has dodos among the many extinct animals wandering the game's Island of Mystery. They're prey for all the game's carnivores, completely defenseless, and very, very slow. Their dossier page states that they're possibly the dumbest creature the author has ever seen and that the only reason they survive is by adapting to reproduce incredibly quickly, hence why they are so common despite constantly being eaten by dinosaurs and humans.
    • As of the 'Ark: Fear Evolved' Halloween event, the game has also implemented Zomdodos (undead Dodos) and the DodoRex, which has the appearance of a large, feathered Tyrannosaurus with a head shaped like a Dodo's.
  • The second Zoo Tycoon game has dodo birds as one of the adoptable species when the Extinct Animals expansion pack has been installed. They aren't dumb per se, but they are very cheap and easy to exhibit.
  • The Don't Starve: Shipwrecked DLC has the Doydoys, passive mobs which are clearly meant to be dodo birds.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has Dodos as enemies in the Lost Mangroves.
  • Subverted in Pokémon; the multi-headed birds Doduo and Dodrio invoke this trope in name, but otherwise have little in common with dodo birds beyond being flightless. As of this writing, there still isn't a "proper" dodo Pokemon.
  • The Kulu-ya-Ku of Monster Hunter is a Bird Wyvern that's like a Yian Kut-Ku mixed with a dodo bird. The trope is subverted because, while it is rather ditzy, it's both smart and dextrous enough to use tools (in this case, using its specially developed forelimbs to grip rocks to use as bludgeons, shields and throwing weapons) which is usually a sign of higher intelligence in animals.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure": Stan brings home Daren, a dodo cloned by the CIA that has to be repeatedly saved from killing itself. The first time Stan introduces Daren, it coats itself in oil, breads itself, and sits in a pan on the stove after lighting the burner.
  • Looney Tunes has Yoyo Dodo in one of their most famous cartoons, "Porky in Wackyland", who looked nothing like the real thing (being green with a little red/pink umbrella on his head), and is a Reality Warper of the highest order.
  • Yoyo's son, Gogo Dodo, is a regular character in Tiny Toon Adventures, to the point where he's in the theme song! Like his father, he looks nothing like the real thing.
  • The Phineas and Ferb intro theme talks about "finding a dodo bird" and has the accompanying animation of the two brothers finding one on top of a tall mountain. They eventually do spot one that Dr. Doofenshmirtz had hatched from an egg with one of his inventions in "Last Train to Bustville".
  • In part 2 of the Superman: The Animated Series episode "The Main Man" guest-starring Lobo, one of the many animals the Preserver collected when they were on the brink of extinction was a dodo bird. The artificial yellow sunlight in the dodo's home recharged Clark's powers.
  • The Mr. Men Show:
    • Mr. Grumpy sometimes refers to other characters as "dodo birds." A few examples:
      Mr. Grumpy: Don't encourage these dodo birds! Just get on with the game.
      It's invasion of the dodo birds!
    • In the U.S. version of the episode "Music," he asked this question, which is along the same line, about Miss Sunshine's piano playing:
      Mr. Grumpy: Does she have to play like such a looney bird?
  • An episode of The Penguins of Madagascar has the penguins accidentally clone a dodo bird which turns out to be a Fearless Fool and repeatedly gets himself killed, forcing the penguins to clone him over and over. Which is actually Truth in Television (and even mentioned on the show), as part of the reason dodos went extinct is that there were next to no predators on their island, and therefore they evolved no defenses and were oblivious to how dangerous humans were when they first showed up.
  • The Flintstones:
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches has one in the episode "Oggy and the Dodo Bird" that follows Oggy home.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, two dodo birds are seen chasing down a Crazy Frog knockoff in the Void.
  • Kim Possible: In "The Twin Factor", Drakken uses a mind-control chip on Shego to replace her usual insolent attitude with placid obedience. At one point, he amuses himself by sending her to look for a dodo bird.
  • A time-travel episode of Wild Kratts shows the Kratt brothers going back in time to early 17th century Mauritius to see dodo birds. In a case of Shown Their Work, the dodos themselves are portrayed as intelligent, but clueless about the dangers brought to their island by humans due to being isolated from predators and therefore evolving no defenses.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents that takes place at Niagara Falls, when Timmy is falling over the falls, Cosmo turns him into a loon, as he believes it's Canada's national bird. note  He proceeds to turn himself and Wanda into dodos, as he believes it's Canada's national extinct flightless bird. Wanda immediately recognizes the danger of being turned into a flightless bird while falling down a waterfall and demands that Cosmo does something. He decides to give them both mustaches.

    Real Life 
  • Dodo birds likely were not stupid at all; they were pigeons, and pigeons are highly intelligent, even by bird standards. They certainly couldn't fly, as mentioned, but that has no bearing on their brains. They became extinct because of Crippling Overspecialization, having been outcompeted by other species (in particular pigs), due to having no predators (or competition) before those species arrived.
    • Interestingly, while the media portrays dodos as skittish fools, in real life they were closer to being Fearless Fools; dodos lived on an island with no predators, so they had no idea that humans and the invasive species they brought with them were dangerous.
    • While many people believe that dodos were eaten into extinction by people, records made by sailors showed that the flesh of the dodo was very tough and filled with oil, making them inedible to humans. And while they didn't have predators, they still fought with each other over food and territory and mates and were fairly large and muscular birds, so they weren't helpless against animals that attacked the adults. Most of the destruction was done to the eggs and young, preventing dodos from replenishing their numbers until they died out.
  • Some have argued that dodos got their name as an invocation of this trope, coming from a root word meaning "simpleton". It's now suggested that dodos, being pigeons, had a call that sounded like the soft "doo-doo, doo-doo" of a pigeon. So it's more likely that dodos were named after the sounds they made.


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